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Key Capitol Hill Hearings

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Russia 69, Syria 22, U.s. 12, Pell 10, United States 10, Us 8, Israel 7, Nelson Mandela 6, Iran 5, Mandela 5, Nelson 4, China 4, Africa 4, Washington 4, Maryland 4, South Africa 4, Gpa 3, United Nations 3, Moscow 3, Indiana 2,
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  CSPAN    Key Capitol Hill Hearings    Series/Special. Speeches from policy makers  
   and coverage from around the country. (Stereo)  

    December 5, 2013
    10:00 - 12:01am EST  

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on the u.s.-russia and the middle east, margaret warner chief foreign affairs correspondent at the "pbs newshour" and i'm pleased to say at this point that they'll monitor and news hour have agreed to coproduce joint web specials about the middle east posted by margaret warner beginning in 2014. welcome. >> thank you very much. i look forward to that and i look forward to our panel today. we have some fabulous participants. i know you know the mall and i will give brief introductions in a minute but as was referred to this morning we are seeing growing russian at least engagement in the middle east after quite a few decades of nonengagement. ..
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>> a fellow at the strategic and international studies and he has a myriad of books laying out his worldview and he has been a frequent guest of morning joe
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and his works are published in russian and english and this is similar to foreign affairs and also fiona hill, who is a former national intelligence officer for russia and eurasia. really quite recently. she is head of the center of u.s. and europe at brookings and she is co-author of a recent book called mr. vladimir putin operative in the kremlin, which the review said was not just another vladimir putin biography but a psychological portrait. so we only have an hour and we want to save 20 minutes or so for audience questions. so let's get to the question. >> russia never left the middle east. the middle east is right next to
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russia and the first of all, i think the russians have a defensive interest and if there is an explosion in the middle east, it will spread throughout the region and that money may involve saying goodbye, but it could unite the muslims in russia. another interest is to restore some of russia's influence which several decades ago was much larger. and i think russia wants to keep a foot in it and they are not prepared to expel america from the middle east in a dramatic effort, because they can't do to the expectations. so we have russia playing a game in which some games are possible. and this includes engaging russia in the top level of
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decision-making. >> how do you see a? do you see greater russian engagement than a decade ago? if so, to what end? >> i see greater russian engagement than a year ago. and he is the prime minister of turkey, the prime minister of israel, the chief of saudi intelligence, russian foreign and defense ministry and we are talking to plus two talks and that is incredible in context. and in the paradox is is that
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it's not being by moscow and the position taken on syria and this includes a willingness to stop intervention. and as it happened before, that was a key driving force and we have no strategic interests in the middle east. we have a lot of the russian position where it may be people dislike him, them, but it was very much consistent over time.
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>> so we have the broader question and some people say since the arab spring, but whatever we can compare, and what you think is driving a? >> i think that things have been part of this the last year and this is a re-engagement. and they are now capitalizing on this term on the egyptian political scene. and more broadly, there is a great deal of concern about the shifts in what the russians see as the bottom of the pile in the middle east with the arab spring. and this includes religiously inspired governments in this
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includes and what we see is a very interesting constellation of partnerships in the middle east middle east and this is not the cold war and anymore. and this includes protecting against extremism for domestic purposes. and is also an effort to reach out to natural alliances and israel sort of mentioned the visits with israeli leaders. and it -- iran is a major preoccupation for russia and also egypt and the aside regime
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and so russia's trying to destroy the balance of power that are shifting because of the concerns and the problems that to putin and others are facing, they are thinking about it's not just a regime change aspects. a pretty complex picture for russia and they are trying to whether that's in the middle east. >> you think that there is an overarching theme to the way that russia is engaging in the middle east now? today russia is not a dominant player.
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but neither is anyone us in this includes the contributing to the decline in this region. china is required to establish this experiment and they have never been a player in the middle east and now it has become a part of this. especially from a political damage point and that's not very reassuring. >> they find it very useful that china is interested in that and investing in them and building up a political presence and thereby diminishing russia's
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influence. and we are establishing our presence and hoping that we will continue with time and realizing that this is part of russia and china and we need both of them. one of which no one is likely to be preeminent. and that is very different than the team that was being played in the 60s and 70s and early '80s. >> so not a great old war rival. >> it is much more complicated in which it is not a zero-sum outcome.
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>> so how do you think, theodore two how do you think the russian government fees -- [inaudible] >> the general perception of american policy, i would not say a strategy because strategy is not the right word for this [inaudible] as for russia but russia is relatively successful now and
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initially they have an objective. but because russia sticks to certain principles, what should be done in rather what should not be done. and this is, we see that to have any kind of idea about this process is even an idea that might be challenged by many. and this is extremely strange. >> so when you think that the consistency of russia's position, which is to oppose the undermining and external overthrow of a sovereign state
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-- states and leaders, it is appealing throughout the middle east. and there are some states that are perhaps feeling that prospect. >> those regimes in the gulf region, they don't understand the logic. but as for the ideas, i think it is basically the approach of the assumption that the regime change is not a solution. >> go back to your place of vladimir putin. if you like that explains the russian actions here? in what way?
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i will simply leave it at that. >> there are a couple of things that one has to bear in mind about vladimir putin himself. one of which is his goal from taking the presidency was to restore russia as the state and also some of russia's great features. and i think we have made it clear on the panel but that is not a russian objective or the objective of putin. in his annual address lasser for the year ahead, i think he said that he wanted to make sure that it was a geopolitical demand for russia and i think that is something that has been affected. and there certainly is a demand here on our part of the united states.
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russia has an important role to play and we have to defend the europeans are because they have played a very important role come even if they are not playing more broadly beyond syria and iran and the middle east peace process. and this might have said that even you can rely on us and our factories even if you are in the midst of this, even though there is a movement to take advantage and the fact that the u.s. is not exactly part of the egyptian military. that as he said, nonetheless, these efforts are putting russia
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back as a player in a very important region at a time when things are shifting and no one is sure the outcome what the outcome is going to be. and that is consistent with his own view on how things can be done and how to defend and protect the russian assets. >> can you explain my russia has so consistently supported the aside regime. and he just said that it wasn't really about syria. can you explain? >> after the war, it has changed significantly and several needs during the cold war and that system, became usual. for example, the very idea of responsibility to protect the
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humanitarian interventions and then emerged as a legitimate tool, but unfortunately, very quickly as a means to settle problems. and many decided which part was right and was progressing in which part was wrong and responsible for everything. and of course they have preferences, but they are trying to be the mediators. and from the russian point of view, it was a combination of this approach and that is not
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the way to settle anything in syria became the turning point for russian diplomacy, and i think the foreign minister said once publicly that what was at stake at syria models are international conflicts. >> what is your your response to that in your view of that? >> i am troubled by that perspective because i don't think it is exactly decisive. russia's role is limited and russia is not a superpower and vladimir putin would like to restore that, but it will not be restored in the middle middle east, not in this so to speak.
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it will be restored if we restore the momentum and if it minimizes the negative outcomes of these increasing policies, which are making all this nervous. >> but do you think -- >> an enormous capacity for them to act in this capacity. >> do you think that he is correct when he says that russia is now trying to stand against what had been something of a wave of in the affairs of other countries and support for certain actors in a way that hadn't been done before. >> the united states decided, actually, not to intervene seriously in this syrian problem
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>> things corrupt either regionally or be contained on the basis of wider international recommendation with the countries that have more influence internationally than others, collaborating, but without any one of them, it conceivably expects a positive outcome to the various aspects of the peace process will produce tangible and decisive benefits for one of them. this is the nature of the game in the middle east if we have peace with the iranians. and if the next phase is successful. there will have to be a compromise.
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the chinese have one benefit, continually securing a source of oil. and this is potentially very disruptive. so we are all kind of reassuring ourselves in the. >> you think that the u.s. and russia really have common interests in resolving this conflict? we have sort of heard that from congressman van hollen. that preventing is your hobby extremist and cover what you want to describe it, entity from gaining control of this is something that the u.s. and russia are determined to
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prevent. >> doctor brzezinski has art he laid out that we don't know how we get to this end we are not even sure what that and will actually look up and russia would like to see some answers to that question and we don't have those opposites and it's very good reasons that have given the situation. >> we have seen, however, that the u.s. and russia can work
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together on something very complete, which has been the case of chemical weapons. we can translate that on the civil war in many respect to chemical weapons issue and we have the framework and we know what needs to be done all that was very straightforward. this is much more complex. >> so there are a lot of difficult discussions to be had
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and no certainty that we will end up in an outcome that we will be happy with. >> counties to the prospects from this geneva agreement? with the u.s. and russia on the chemical weapons issue, providing a template for getting all the parties to the table. you have heard the chairman of the house intelligence committee say that the u.s. cannot really deliver its allied partners or favored force within. to the table. russia cannot. >> i do think this is a whole keeping for the process and i don't see directly between chemical weapons operations,
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which is surprisingly successful because we remember when the idea came up, numerous experts both here and in washington convincingly explained why it is not possible. but we see that in case of this, we have technical capacity on both sides and i think that will lead to a complete success. but i don't think and i don't see how that will be transformed because this is a very particular issue and the influence on the syrian position is a key factor and i have a recent conversation with a very important element from saudi arabia who said that americans cannot deliver, not at all, but we can. let's make a deal.
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geneva can agree. we have commented over 90% of those fighting in syria. >> meaning that saudi arabia could deliver the fighting force. >> yes. but it's interesting that for the first time that we have heard something like that. and so i think this is an important issue and we cannot agree -- or we can agree. and doctor brzezinski is absolutely right. so what does this have to do with the russian engagement and
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so on. and should the u.s. be alarmed by this at all? or do we see this as an opportunity to lease resolve some issues? >> i don't that we should be alarmed. because i don't think it should be overestimated in it's important posture. it's a desirable important posture, but it's not when she decides the outcome. i think that there is a chance and it can be compromised in an arrangement in which bashar al-assad doesn't have to go but he doesn't stay. and there's an opening for that. >> i think his second term expires next year.
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and he had a major interview with bashar al-assad himself on his position and then finally a german journalist asked him, your second term expires next year. what are you going to run again. to which he responded that i don't know, i haven't decided. and i think that creates an opening. and we may not get what assad may have wanted, which is a sunni dominated syria, explicitly. but we may get a different arrangement if assad steps aside to conciliate at least some of the more significant elements in
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society. and on the sideline, the chinese would obviously prefer, due to the overall regional consequences, and i think about what than depend on whether you can formulate an approach on which in effect to preserve syria as such. and the real risk is what you're describing as democratic and the dangers to russians and dangerous to outcome of the same groups that operate in the caucuses.
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>> so how should the u.s. and syria look upon this? >> i think that we have all actually been talking about this in a slightly different way and the outcomes in which there was a degree of collaboration and shared interest and there were many factors whether we are sectarian or sort of political and that we can all look in some fashion and there is no benefit from the current circumstances
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and how do you factor in and one thing we will pay particular attention to in the future is how to restore the relationships versus having a troubled relationship. many people here may have forgotten and in 2004 and operatives assassinated the former chechnya official another time we were having a conference and let's just say it was part of this about this incident. and there is a long set of troubles and connections between russia and the region that have
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an impact not just for the glittery event but the long-term stability of russia's southern regions. and russia wants to see whatever guarantees are against a blowback and this is a real concern and this is not just a perception that they are trying to use and this is something that vladimir putin are trying to be generally concerned about. and so we have to fight to that end and had a straightforward conversation about what we think the middle east is going to look like in the future. >> so what is this?
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and it is certainly voted for sanctions and participated in arranging this agreement. so let's start with you and the issues they are. >> the relationship has been quite complicated and this is a simplistic picture which i sometimes have as part of the russian allies and would mention that they have the sanctions against iran and they canceled the deal after 2010 in the previous president said this both about russia and the president in egypt.
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now i think that this has improved because of syria but it is extremely helpful and great and there are different views in moscow on whether we should encourage this or not and some people believe that it is not in our best interest because it will immediately turn to the west and forget about this and that is why we should try to prevent it. but i think it is a sure part of it because my position, we should encourage this out of the u.s. and iranian better relationships because iran is extremely important as a regional player in this includes
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the more important part of moscow and iran will never become this in light of an independent force. voice. and i think that we are interested to have strong but predictable situations. >> i agree. i think he is speaking with ground truth here. and this is definitely part of this video. one thing, just to remind the audience to push a subtle little bit further, is that there is a real change in russia's relationship with israel. which also means that russia, like the united states, has to
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bottle off policies towards iraq and israel and we keep forgetting this. and it has that has a lot to do with the influx of russians and soviets and the whole of the former soviet republics. and nonetheless, part of a representative of the basket of people that has transformed politics obviously as people become integrated into the society and they become a part of the fabric. but there is a constituency that he has really reached out to.
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and in a rueful way and this is how he talks about it and he wants to reestablish the close ties with the critical population of engineers and of intellectuals and and he sees this as a huge loss to the fabric of russian society. and he has made great efforts to the reestablishment. we have seen a lot of high-level visits, not just on the security side, but by israeli officials and benjamin netanyahu and vladimir putin himself and i don't know if this is true, but there was a rumor actually showing you how much of a relationship between russia and israel has been transformed. so how do you balance this relationship with this relationship with israel.
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and so it's very interesting to watch this about how we can move forward in balancing all of these competing demands. >> i will just make a brief comment. i think that russia and the united states have the same interest with iran and nuclear weapons and as far as they are concerned. nuclear powers that have nuclear weapons don't want additional powers to have these weapons and i think that if we share that interest, this is why i think we will work together to see if we can transform this and that is a great accommodation to pursue and i am a little bit less rosy about the overall historical relationship between russia and iran and iran and russia have had some real problems, territorial problems over the
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years and i think those that ignore history or a strategy would be part of the long-range prospects of that relationship because iran is a potential balance and extremely intelligent and very well-trained and quite modern and i think that it could be a challenge in the region. >> do you think russia is thinking that way? from the people that you have talked to, as theodore said that it is very complicated if iran changes its relationship with the west and emerges from isolation and it could be threatening to russia. >> it's an interesting question far beyond the realm of our discussion. it depends on what russia wants to do. but if russia remains dominated with what i consider to be an
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unrealistic nostalgia for the status remained and so forth. we have seen some of that in this crisis with the ukraine. and i think that that has generated new independent states surrounding the current genuine national facility for russia and especially those who want to be a part of this. some feel that they have to be and they are paying lip service. but they are simultaneously communicating to us and the europeans and the chinese the things that they would like to accomplish and to negate the significance. and i think that vladimir putin
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has been unrealistic and his aspirations and is delaying what i think is desirable and inevitable. russia has a senior partner is europeans dead. and i think that this is what the issues are about and they involve the relationship as well. >> into this complicated situation, this is our panel and just say so and we will take it from there and if you could, just briefly state your name and affiliation and keep your question three. >> thank you. my question russian analysts indicate that it is important to keep russia as a part of power, and this will be down into
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russia itself and is there any concern that it is making russia a target of the jihad. it is causing alienation in the long run and does it help russia or hurt russia? >> russia is a target for jihad is anyway. and as for support, we can argue this as well and it is quite fruitless. and i think that what has happened there is one simple
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thing and in this particular situation, no one is okay. it is better to have a clear view and a clear commitment and it produces at least certain degrees of respect in this country. trying to undermine russia even if russia will change this and syria and i would remind you that if russia would veto the resolution and this is upon the new government and the russian and chinese companies are not welcome anymore.
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>> guess? >> thank you very much. [inaudible conversations] >> thank you very much for this discussion. and we want to talk in terms of russia's attitude and we have talked about iran and relationships with saudi arabia and if you thought about this on the eastern mediterranean and where does the strategic vision that you have outlined and it has to do with this order how does this play into discussion?
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>> from my point of view, what you have raised develops the ultimate reputation of the argument that russia can be and a self isolated imperial power within the geographical confines and this is the process of gaining some international influence, largely because of the posture on the supply of energy and especially so to europe. it is now coming to a rapid end. russia's hope for the economic success is part of the chinese being willing to buy all of the energy that the russians had to offer and americans have
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position to this respect. and this includes the influence of economics and technology. i think that what you have raised is the ultimate challenge is and this is increasingly imperialistic and i think that it has been traditionally overestimated, and now i fully agree with the situation on the international market not because of the middle east but because of shale gas revolution and and
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it prevents some from coming to the european market. and second, they have different reasons. and all those calculations and interesting schemes, it is extremely exciting. and as for russia, yes, i agree and i can argue about the relationship and it is so interesting, but that is absolutely true and the perspective for the economic development is much more east oriented now, not necessarily china, but eurasia and asia at large because those markets need
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russian supply much more than the european market. >> i would just like to talk about this in the middle east because we have ourselves into this euphoric state and the united states is completely independent of energy. and certainly there is a fence around this town and that is not the case. and russia actually fits on the world's largest deposit of shale gas. it has enormous conventional importance, which is a title. and we have shifted this is a
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major player even if the united states for a certain period of time, in terms of this sometime in the next 10 years. while this means is that the current business model is changed and russians are very good at adapting this because of the huge size being so important to the economy and we assume that they have adapted many times before. so they have some to do with the stock market and they won't be able to have the big pipelines and is again going to be a more complex very and they have to be very careful of rushing out and thinking that everything has changed radically the we are all in the process the shale gas revolution is how quickly things can change.
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from this includes their own uses of energy efficiency and that is the kind of things we are talking about. we have to be careful of thinking that this change is russia's position in europe, but the russians are going to respond to it and i would just say over the next several years, we will have a lot of discussion and how did that happen. so i think that we just have to be careful about how we crave things right now. >> can you speak up a little bit? and there is one minority in the
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place where it began. it actually consists of about more than 100,000 people in syria and there is no help from russia and do you see any change of policy at all. >> can you explain this group? >> this is a group of caucuses, those who left russia in the 19th century, mostly, doing the
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fighting to the russian empire. and they were across this and many of them are in syria. on the one hand, russia refuses to have different nationalities -- they refuse to recognize those who want to leave syria. several hundreds of those and they have tried to leave there. in the russian case, it is such a difficult equilibrium between willingness to have those and those who are part of the
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region. but that will be used by extremists as a way and the security services have to think in these terms. >> a question back there? >> hello, my name is shaun evans and i mean voice of russia and i have a question for the doctor. i wanted to ask if you could discuss the endgame for the u.s. and iran, especially concerning the fact -- doesn't want to end sanctions and considering that it has considered the -- you said that in the article obama back down to benjamin netanyahu.
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and this is the same process that created this arrangement. and in the context of which i hope we don't lose our sense of rationality because a war in the middle east is going to make his expedition into afghanistan and iraq look like short-term lasting a dozen years or so.
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the united states for 30 years managed to prevent a nuclear war and they are able to convince both of those countries and the soviet union why we would have to go to war. and that would preserve their independence even if there is no solution with the iranians. the israelis have 200 or more and they are not one-sided we vulnerable and i am quite sure
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that we make a subsequent full-scale treaty with iran. >> and this would be preferable for military action. >> there's no reason to believe it wouldn't work if the united states was committed and was a proportion of power between the united states including nuclear power would be enormous and we have again been swept into this formulation and a quick -- to nuclear capability and once you
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have completed this, you have one nuclear bomb and you're going to use it against an enemy if you are not 150% sure it will go off, you have to have a delivery system and then on top of that, you have to have more nuclear weapons and israel begins to retire and you can have a counterattack against them. we are talking about the process even in the absence of an agreement. and i am not advocating that, that will take a lot of time before becomes a serious threat in this includes to react to any act of violence with weapons in the region directed at the united states. and this includes this throughout the entire cold war.
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>> right back here, i'm sorry, and then i will get back to your. >> giving it to this gentleman in the back. >> thank you. the question is about the interview with "the washington post" at the end of september. the question was, which kind of syria do you want? the answer was a secular syria. can you command this, if this is a kind of idea for a secular syria or what? >> secular is a word that is associated with the political systems of the west and we are dealing with the middle east. and there is an international situation between religious and political power and i think that
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what has been distinctive about syria, at least in these years, and syria is not a democracy by any means and make no mistake. is that within syria there was one outcome and toleration of religious diversity and they proclaim themselves to be part of liberation, which means a policy of one sectarian government and another and rejecting this rather complex internal arrangement that have heretofore existed in syria in which i should think one would wish to preserve, even without this being said. ..
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so discussed it. but i think it gets back to what he was saying about a nonsectarian tone to the debate. the united states doesn't want to take sides in this conflict.
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because all the religious partners. i think we have learned from that. it wasn't completely accurate depiction of the 1990s. we have to be extraordinary careful how we talk about. we are skirting around the proper ways or the least -- of describing a very complex situation. the united does not want to be seen in a middle of a sectarian conflict. it gets the whole issue of the sunni shiite. because this is, again, obviously something very much focused in the context of middle east peace process. we have to be careful about how we deal with it.
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but countries like armenia have taken a refugee population inspite the fact that there air main began population of syria are essentially indigenous to the region. and it's going to be a debate we're going see across how do you deal with the massive refugee of people seeking the right to return or right to be able to go to where they have an hold historic. it's going have something that has an impact over every country. turkey is right there grappling with it at the moment. this is transforming all of the population something we have to fight in the next few years. >> guest: as predicted. i want to thank our panelist for
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a fascinating conversation. and the conference is breaking now until 3:00. we'll resume with a panel on syria. thank you very much. [applause] [inaudible conversations] former south africa president died at his home on thursday. he spent 127 years in prison after being convicted for the antiappar tide activities. after his release from prison in 1990, he was elected president of the country in 1994. u.s. secretary general reacted to the death of mr. mann dell --
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mandela. >> good evening, ladies and gentlemen. thank you for this opportunity. as spokesperson said that i'm just going the airport to go paris to attend africa secret meeting in paris. but i heard this very sad news of a mandela's pass. i thought i would say in person on behalf of the united nations. i'm profoundly saddened by the passing of nelson mandela. nelson mandela was a giant for justice for human dignity, equality, and freedom. he touched our lives in deeply personal ways. at the same time, --
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[inaudible] to advance the value ands aspiration of united nations. nelson showed what is possible for our world. each one of us, if we believe a -- for justice and humanity. he's moral force was a decisive and dismantling the system of appar tide. he marched from -- he insisted the credit belong to others. i'll never forget his self-lessness and deep sense of shared purpose. on behalf of the united nations, i extent my deepest condolences
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to nelson mandela's family. the people of south africa, and indeed, our global family. let us continue each day to be inspired by nelson's life-long example to keep working for a better and more just world. thank you. [inaudible conversations] time for two questions. >> could you recall perhaps your first encounter you might have had with nelson. what was it like on a personal level for you? >> when i met him, i was deeply touched and moved and inspired by what he said. when i praised to him for his lifelong struggle to end appar tide. he said that, no, it's not only
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me. there are hundred of hundreds of known, unknown people who have contributed to the ending of appar tide. i was a -- it struck to me a sense of human decency. such a new mill -- humility and humbleness. such a great man was saying it was to the only him. there were known and unknown hundred of hundreds of people. he repeated two or three times. then i, again, in the course of my dialogue, i told him, well, president mandela, we are grateful for your contribution for lifelong contributions to make this world a just and to end appar tide.
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he it's not only me, he said. there are hundreds of hundreds of hundreds of unknown -- known and unknown people who made this happen. this is what a great man said. a real sense of human decency and humility. i'm deeply grateful for what he has left during his lifetime to make a world just and fair and equal for everybody. >> thank you, mr. secretary general on behalf of the u.n. response appreciation. we appreciate you taking the time to speak to us. is there any single message that
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nelson has made throughout the years that run particularly true with you. and you think applies today in africa and throughout the rest of the world? one of the thing he often said was that the whole cause of freedom was still a work in progress. >> africa had many countries in the world during last century and many centuries before have suffered from this rule. and violation of the human right and human dignity. only because of such a great man like nelson mandela is possible that particular people in africa and elsewhere are able to enjoy freedom and human dignity. i'm still very much humbled.
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many people, particularly people -- [inaudible] totally abuse and violated. we have to learn the wisdom and determinations and commitment from all of president mandela to make this world better. that is what i really wanted to exprez my deepest admiration and respect to president mandela and people of south africa. and all people of africa. thank you very much.. thank you. president obama will likely travel to south africa for the funeral of south africa
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president nelson mandela, according to the white house. nelson mandela died thursday. he was 95. coming up on c-span2, a hearing on higher education affordability. then senate judiciary committee chairman talks about human rights. and later an update on veterans disability claims.
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a house panel investigation cost of higher education and the use of pell grants. we'll hear from student financial aid and higher education officials. this education and work force training subcommittee hearing is two hours. [inaudible conversations] the subcommittee will come to order. good morning. thank you for joining us for our hearing on pell grant program. we have an excellent panel of witnesses here this morning. we look toward to their testimony. this hearing is the 11th in the series designed to gain a more complete understanding of the challenges facing post secondary students and institutions. the hearings held to inform the
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committee of policy changes that should be considered as part of the upcoming reauthorization of the higher education act. we abbreviate hea. over the last year the hearings provide a forum to discuss opportunities to encourage innovation, increase transparency, enhance data collection, and improve college access and affordability. we have been fortunate to hear from a number of expert witnesses whose testimony and insight will provide valuable as we begin crafting legislation next year to strengthen america's higher education system through hea reauthorization. with roughly 71% of undergraduates receiving some form of federal financial aid, simplifying the complex system of grants, loans, and institutional support programs remain central goal in thely authorization efforts.
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corner stone of federal student aid. when the pell grant program begin in the early 1970. its central focus was providing financial assistance to help low-income students access higher education. in it first year, the program provided aid to 176,000 students. since then it has grown dramatically. today more than 9 million students are pell grant recipients. the sharp rise in pell participation in more recent years has been attributed to several factors. one, is the economic recession which spurred many individuals to go back to school to learn skills needed to compete with today's job.
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also, washington policy makers pass legislative changes to pell to increase the program's maximum grant award and weaken student eligibility requirements. allowing more students to receive larger pell grant awards. since the program guarantees aid to any student who meets the eligibility criteria, enrollment spikes threaten the pell program's long-term fiscal viability. pell is one of the federal government's largest education expenditure. costing taxpayers about $30 billion a year. as with every federal program. especially one with such a haftty price tag, washington leaders have a responsibility toker in the pell grant program is effective. there's concern among members of the higher education community and many of my colleagues in congress that pell has strayed too far from its original intend. with such a large recipient pool some worry the program could eventually become insoleble,
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leading to a lack of fund for our neediest students. budget experts who projected multiple dollar funding gaps raising additional questions about whether the program's current structure is fiscally responsible. recognizing the pell grant program is on an unsustainable path leaders in higher education, business, and public policy have begun circulating proposals for reform. one proposed first step to strengthen the program is to simplify the pell grant application process. it has been suggested that instead of forcing families to complete overwhelming amounts of paperwork, a more stream line process better inform student of their -- and generate an accurate -- another proposal suggests additional proposals suggest tightening eligibility requirements. increasing grant flexibility, and implementing accountability
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measures to ensure the program is not only helping the neediest students enroll in college, but also rewarding and encouraging those who make progress toward completion. when hard working taxpayer money is being spent, taxpayers deserve accountability, which means it is critical that we have the information necessary to know what is and is not working in the pell program. the pell grant become has become the epicenter of our nation's financial aid system. we all want to make sure it meets its targets of supporting low-income students who wish to earn a college degree. we must also be hon e about the challenges facing the program and work and together in good faith to enact smart policy changes that will help get the program back on stable ground. we have a great panel of witnesses with us today and i look forward to hearing their thoughts on ways question strengthen the pell grant
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program through our upcoming reauthorization of the higher education act. i'm now pleased to recognize my colleague, the senior democrat member of the subcommittee for his opening remarks. thank you. today's hearing is an opportunity to discuss ways in which congress can strengthen the federal pell grant program. i remember the eight years during the george w. bush administration. the pell grant hoovered about 3,000 to 3,400 a year. and oftentimes cutting it at least 50% to get more money to go to the war in iraq. i was not happy with that. we fought and got it back up to 3,000.
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in the past several years, democrats have fought to make college for affordable by increasing the pell grant award at least 1,600 from 450 in 2006 to 5,645 in 2014. i lowing it to increase yearly with inflation. before we hear from the panel of witnesses. i want to underscore the importance the federal pell grant program inned advancing college access and affordability. serving approximately 9 million hard working students, the federal pell grant program is the single largest source of federal grant aid which supports college students. according to the president and the chancellors who came to visit me during the period chairman of the committee. they said those were the highest priorities they had. it was to make higher education
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affordable and assessable and that we should look very carefully at increasing the pell grant. without a doubt, pell grants are expanding access for low-income students and student of color. an estimated 92% of pell grant recipient have family incomes below the national medium of 51,800. more than 60 percent of african-american undergraduates and half of the latino undergraduates rely on the pell grant to afford the cost of a college degree. pell grants strengthen our economy and boost work force productivity. we know a college degree can dramatically increase employment and wage and move low-income students to the middle class. i'm proud of the progress they have made through the passage of
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student aid and fiscal responsibility act of 2010, known as safe are a. and the college cost reduction at access cost of 2010 i know congress can do more. unfortunately recent budget agreements have reduced the pell grant funding by more than $50 brake light by cutting hundreds of thousand of students from the program many other changes to fund the pell grant program. we can do better than robbing peter to pay paul. moving forward, the republican majority wants to eliminate hundreds of thousand if not millions more students from the pell grant program. the republican passed budget will do exactly that by cutting $98 billion from that program alone.
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to be sure, students and families continue to struggle to afford the cost of a college degree. skyrocketing college costs in recent years have eroded the purchasing power of the pell grant. forcing pell grant recipients to increase. their reliance on student loans next year's maximum pell grant award of $5785 will cover a smaller share of college cost since the start of the program. it's troubling to me to know that pell grant recipients are already more than twice as likely as other students to have student loans. in closing i want to say that this congress is working to reauthorize the higher education act. i urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to value the pell grant program as a piece of the larger budget discussions and not limit themselves to solving short term funding
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problems with long lasting cuts to student aid. with that, miami chair, i yield back. to allow statements, question for the record and other extraneous material referred during the hearing to be committed in the official record. it's my pleasure to introduce our distinguished panel of witnesses. mr. justin serves as president and chief executive officer of the national association of student financial aid administrators.
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you'll have five minutes to present your testimony. when you begin the light in front of you will turn agree. when one minute is left, the light will turn yellow. when your time is expired the light will turn red. that the point, i ask that you wrap up your remarks as best as you are able, after you have testified members will each have five minutes to ask questions of the panel. i now recognize mr. justin for five minutes. thank you.
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i'm grateful to be able to talk to you about the pell grant program pointed out serving nine million students annually over the history has benefited over 60 million students. the program well targeted in 85% of the i are accept yents have family incomes of less than $40,000. 50% of those receiving pell grants have family income of less than $20,000. and weighted toward those with the least resources 70% of pell resilient are receiving the maximum award for the enrollment status. the program, of course, evolve out the basic educational grant beog in 1972 and the goal was very simple. to provide every qualified
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student with access to a post secondary degree. in 1980 they were renamed pell in honor of senator claiborne pell of rhode island. at the four-year public. while the maximum grant has gone from $14 00 to now over 56d 00. it now only covers about 35% of the cost of attendance at the four-year public school. over that time the number of students and total amount spent on the program have increased. i've included many my remarking dollar and amount and list of eligibility requirement changes made in recent years for the reference. the higher education landscape
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is quite different. including the large scale growth in the nontraditional student population where nontraditional students have become the traditional student. the need and amount of developmental and remedial education being required in higher education. the rapid expansion of innovation model and need and enrollment. not to mention the increase scrutiny on student outcomes most notely highlighted by the president's recent proposal to tie student aid to student outcomes at the institutional level.
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the disparity between the families is quite staggering. when researched most low-income student either do not prepare or attend college because they didn't know or didn't believe that student aid funding would be available to them. in many instance it is showed the lack of knowledge or confidence that funds would be there for them leads low-income students to inned aer have or doesn't match best match their academic preparedness. this is sometimes called undermatching.
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it would also match up nicely with some of the new innovative learning models that are being introduced prior learning assessment and competency based education program. finally to provide a super foal graduate within four years. student attending college for 15 credit hour per semester. doing so, would eliminate the need of many students and most specifically the nontraditional students from working borrowing or stopping out, which stopping out can run as high as 95% at some community colleges. i thank you for the opportunity to talk about pell grants today and look forward with working with the committee in this
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regard. thank you very much. you are recognized for five minutes. >> thank you for this opportunity onmy own behalf and behalf of the center. pell grants the pell program faces two series problems today. first, increasing cost to the taxpayer and failure to serve students well. the program in short is too expensive and too few students graduate. by returning the pell program to the roots it's the possible to trim costs while improving student success and access. let me start with costs. in 2012, 2011 over 9 million students received pell grants. awards total more than $33 billion. 35% of all u.s. students received some form of pell grants. since the creation of the program participation has grown more than 4500%.
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much that have growth consistent of middle income students. eight of pell recipient come from family's income is higher than the national median and 60% come from families above the federal poverty threshold. it may seem ironic that they do not in general benefit from pell grants. students from families earning 25,000 to 55,000 who are actually less likely to graduate than nonrecipient with the same income. for low-income the opposite is true. in short, pell grants help our neediest students achieve graduation but not improve the achieve graduation rates. they work best for students with strong academic backgrounds. the college retention rate of pell recipient who took a rigorous curriculum in high
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school was 87% compared to 57.of% for grantees without a rigorous curriculum. those with scores between 1100 and 1600 graduated at the rate of 73.7%. similar differences are seen when gpa and pell grantee are compared. we have several recommends. first, we need better data so the department of education can evaluate the effectiveness of pell grants and second, we need to make sure the public can have access to the data. the better that da are just a start. financial eligibility should be limited to students whose income falls below 133% of the federal poverty level. with a simple cutoff the fasfa can be simplified.
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for low-income students could be determined in five or six questions instead of the long form students face today. for students who are not very low-income, the form could be simplify but not quite to that extent. colleges and universities next should place limits on students pell grant money to stop students from receiving grants and then dropping out of their courses. one positive example comes from north carolina. from central peed month community college. they implemented several policies do just that. they don't disperse grants until after 10% of the semester has been completed. they disperse money in two parts to make sure students stay around. and they limit what can be purchased with financial aid. next grants should go studentses who are prepared for the challenge of college work. academic requirement for initial and continuing pell eligibility should be tightened. one option to do so would be to match academic standards set by
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the national athletic association. which requires first-year athlete to have completed certain high school courses. it also requires students to have taken act or s.a.t. and meet threshold scores based on gpa. such a policy would focus on the students most likely to succeed and give them an incentive to better prepare for college. to further encourage students to graduate, grant amounts should be linked to enrollment intenty. also it can be coupled with the pell well concept. which bases awards on a 12 month schedule rather than the academic year. in sum, the current pell program faces serious challenge. question meet them with better data. financial planning, and student accountability. thank you. i thank you for the first two witnesses for being so good about being on time.
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mr. dan nonberg, i recognize you for five minutes. >> thank you. i have three basic. tread lightly. the third to attempt the leverage state constitutional age in support of college affordability and make it more impactive. there are millions of -- hardship than i have and accomplished far more. which is leads me to the first point. it's been very successful. 40 years ago the percentage of low-income students that are pursuing a higher education is less than half of a -- we have cut the gap between low-income student by pursuing it by 40% in the 40 years. the pell is making a difference to millions of lives as has been
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discussed at least with respect to access. i think it's important to keep in mind representative also mentioned that 90% of pell recipient have incomes of less than 50,000. for those with incomes between 30 and $50,000. after you add up grant aid scholarship ad, whatever they expect to pay out of pocket. students have unmet need of some $11 ,000 to pay for one year of higher education. they're feeling it with loans, additional work, eating ramen noodleds. the student are living on the edge. some will not pursue higher education. and the second is as justin mentioned the number of students who real jibl academically prepared to go to four-year institutions two-year institutions are all thing being equal there substantially less likely to complete.
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second message. in dealing with the long-term funding gap, i think a balanced approach is appropriate. one that targets spending reductions in areas that are not linked to needy students directly. and pursues revenue enhancement in the program side. i've listed a host of offset options in my testimony. i'm just going to throw out one with respect to targeted spending reduction. right now if a student leaves higher education for a term is up, the school is responsible for returning the financial aid that student receives. the pell grant aid the student receives. right now the rules are loose. one a student puts in 60% of the term. the school keeps 100% of the money. if a student drops out and doesn't notify the school, the school gets to assume the student of was there 50% of the time and keep 50% of the money. if you tightened up the return
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of tight four rules, upwards of $10 billion can be saved. a number on the revenue side in term of increasing revenue to the pell grant program. it brings me to the third message. leveraging state and constitutional aid in support of improved college completion and college affordability. state aid is the number one driver of increased college tuition. as justin mentioned it's the number one driver of college completion. the feds are small players in the game. major but still small. the big players are still financially states and constitutions of higher education. if we can incentivize states to if not maintain funding at least embrace policies that ensure that low-income students can pursue higher education with a debt free guarantee or low
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tuition with respect indiana which is a model program. you can dramatically improve college completion, and reduce college costs. not a pie in the sky idea. congress has long history of consolidating programs. targeting programs, delivering aid in lump sums. we would suggest doing that with respect to a number of higher education programs, loans, grants, tax benefits outside the pell grant. let states do what they think is best in order achieve the type of outcome they have in indiana. imagine being able to stay to an eighth grade student. it you are responsible and work hard in high school. we'll guarantee you can go to a four--- a college public college of your choice within the your state at very least without incurring any new debt.
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that type of promise is possible. students who have the talent, desire, and drive to pursue the post secondary education should be able to do so without being hindered by the ability to pay. i think it's right today. thank you. recognized for five minutes. >> i am pleased to be here today to present this testimony on behalf of my institution. on behalf of the 17 -- and the nearly 6,000 pell grant recipients we're currently serving, we are happy to engage with the committee on how we can improve the pell grant program especially in the area of increased flexibility for nontraditional students encouraging completion, defining an identifying the neediest
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students, and eliminating fraud and limiting abuse. with almost 1200 community colleges nationwide, and millions of pell recipient. they are of high importance and extremely relevant to our institutions and students today. increased flexibility for nontraditional students. many nontraditional students determine their best option is to take less than 12 credits because of family and work responsibilities. the pell grant should be flexible enough to pay for the credits only. currently if a student is eligible for the maximum pell grant, but is registered for nine credits, he receives the same amount of pell as the student who registers for 11 credits. students in this scenario are using up their pell lifetime eligibility used but not earning the most credits allowed. this penalizes the nontraditional student is often not able to attend full-time.
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for the nontraditional student they would be pursuing their educational goal at the space that sets their other time commitments and the taxpayer would not paying for credits that are not yet earned. encouraging completion. maryland recently passed the college and career readiness and college completion act of 2013 or known as sb740 a good summary on the initiative can be found on the website for the maryland association of community colleges. the initiative takes significant step to better prepare maryland students for college and encouraging completion once they get there. there are similar initiatives in other states but still a large number of states with no such progress. colleges have data indicate students who need more than two
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developmental classes have a significant drop in program completion. and it follows that the more developmental classes required, the more the program completion rate drops. maryland law sb740 attempts to decrease the need for developmental education on the college level. simplifying the process for a defining and identifying the neediest students. we know who the neediest students are and question identify them as early as middle school and certainly by grades ten through 12 is as there is a meaning test in place to identify those who qualify for subsidized meal in the public school. the recommendation noted in my written testimony are part of a report.
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further reduce the number of questions aimed at financial ability to pay. in the breast of time i direct you to the seven rights of testimony. which adopted would make a significant contribution to defining and identifying the neediest students. eliminating fraud and abuse. i begin with a premise that eight administrators are committed to ensuring that all students let matily pursuing higher termed to be eligible to receive. at the same time eight administrators have the responsibility of preventing those not eligible for receiving any amount of financial aid.
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pell, like other federal programs with is subject to fraud. compared to other programs fraud and the pell grant program is relatively minimal in term of number of cases and dollar amounts. responsible for awarding title four funds at the core of attention somewhere between making the process simple and quick for students, while asking enough questions to determine eligibility and prevent fraud. our goal is to eliminate fraud in the program while at the same time assisting the vast majority of students who are pursuing their education goals
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legitimately. identical theft is a global problem in a category by itself. along with identity theft, eight administrators are cognizant of the attempt to submit documents that are fraudulent to support a student's claim of having little or no income. academic attainment for high school and/or college. medical documentation to support south africa president appeal. exaggerated family size or number of family members in college. and taken steps over the last few years take preventive action including systemically identifying files that have unusual enrollment patterns, significant use of pell grant eligibility, and high amount of loan debt. electronically novembering the financial aid office and followup conducted to determine
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if they are in fact who they say they are or if they are legitimately pursuing appropriate educational goals or if they are someone trying to take advantage of the system and misuse federal fund -- >> i'm going ask you if you can wind up, please. you're almost two minute over. >> thank you very much. i want to recognize the chairman of the higher education and work force committee, mr. kline for five minutes. thank you. thank you to the witnesses for being here.
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you're quite excellent testimony. i'm trying to understand how your idea of your testimony requires students to have taken the act or the s.a.t. and meet threshold scores based on gpa. so i listen carefully to your testimony you talked about how you have a greater success rate if they've had a rigorous high school education so forth. i don't understand how this would work for the millions of what we're still calling nontraditional students. they haven't thought the rigorous high school or s.a.t. or act for maybe years. by the way, i agree with the chairwoman, we ought to find
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another term besides nontraditional students. since a majority are in higher education or nontraditional. how would that work? >> ting would be best to only apply the standards to students coming directly out of high school and there should be alternative standards for the new traditional student. the i'm student. additionally i think there should be ways for students who have perhaps not achieved in high school what they find flairt life themselves to be capable of. to find an alternative way to achieve standard. for example, after one semester -- progress in a community college they become reeligible even if they weren't under rigorous high school standards. so if they the low s.a.t. -- act they have go the first
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semester not qualifying for a pell grant. but if they demonstrated then academic capability they would be. -- i am i am interested in the pell well idea. could it be too costly? the cost is a good question. the way it works you're telling a student upfront how much in dollars as opposed to percentages which is with a we do now. they would qualify for it. i'm not sure it would cost anymore. you're telling them a lifetime eligibility limit based on what
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congress did was shrank it from 18 semester to 12. i thank all the witnesses. really helpful as we're trying to move forward to reauthorization of the higher education ability. i think this is our 11th our 12th hearing to grapple with a lot of these issues. a lot has been focused on financial aid in the large and specifically pell grant and loan and how do we do them and all of them. it is central to the issue of getting people access to affordable education. it's confusing. again, thank you very much for your input here today. and i'll yield back. >> thank you, mr. chairman. for being a great role model.
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one person -- maybe not our last hearing but recently has suggested we use the term contemporary student. so that's one of the suggestions has been put out there. we are looking for an alternative for using "nontraditional." since they are now 75 percent of students. i now recognize. >> as you stated your testimony. due to the rising college cost. in light of the diminishing purchasing power, the pell grant now the lowest since the inception could you discuss the reline of pell recipient on federal student loans? i'm sorry, can you repeat that?
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and grants are supplement tal. that diminishes students' ability to take on certain occupations when they leave. and it has a very real impact particularly on students of certain demographic groups when it comes to loan aversion, debt aversion, and the idea of even going higher education much less going a school. >> i agree you indicated 61% of the african-american and 51% of latino undergraduate rely on depend on the pell grant.
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that indicates the united is going to be in need of more post -- more students more workers with post secondary certificates and degrees. where they have to come from are low-income and minority population. in particular latino and african-american. reducing the pep grant have an effect on college access for low-income students and disproportionate impact on african-americans and on latinos. we should be increasing our investment not decreasing it. >> i want you to elaborate on the recommendations that you listed on depressing the pell funding gaps. >> sure.
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as i mentioned i think we should pursue targeted -- that are directed as institution as opposed to needy students. the committee, congress, has tale with the shortfall and gaps in recent years. almost all of those have been filled with student benefit cuts. question need to focus on spending or revenue enhancements. there's about 400 billion in loan. every time one of those loans is paid off early, or converted to the direct loan program the government saves money. we should be incentivizing and authorizing the secretary of education to buy down the edit from borrowers, lenders, whatever, get rid of the debt. save funds, drive the funds in to the pell grant program.
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new america foundation estimates $17 billion over ten years can be saved that way. >> i thank you. dr. robinson, in your remarking you spoke about revising the return to the fight four rules. federal financial aid. tight 4 which pell grants. i wonder if you have compared that recommendation with the for profit colleges and universities which is oftentimes recruit those who were not college ready and somehow get them started. they get the pell grant and quit. very quickly. in fact the numbers i have seen indicate that 25% of the money available for pell grants you
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stop by only 10% of the students going to college through for profit colleges. what if they had to return 90% of the money they receive from a pell grant or $6 ,000 because the student dropped out early. can you discuss that with me? >> i haven't looked at that specifically. i think making sure stiewbilities are accountable regardless of the type institution they attend is very important. i think that there are many programs that provide model of how to do that. i mentioned one in north carolina central piedmont. i think there should be incentive for institutions to make sure the students who begin actually complete. >> let the record show i question the amount that the for-profit colleges are returning to us whether the student drop out. thank you.
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>> thank you. mr. wahlberg you are recognized for five minutes. >> i thank the chairman and the committee for being here. i see you spent some time in east lansing. an exciting place to be. especially with the saturday coming up. i say that knowing university of michigan is in the room as well. [laughter] great game this weekend with ohio state. i appreciate your perspective, enspecially dealing with financial advisers and managers of institutions. if the criteria for pell eligibility were made more rigorous, how do you think institutions respond to the change? how do you think it might affect persistence specifically of the students? >> there's a tension between the eligibility requirements for financial aid and simplicity.
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making it simple enough that students will apply for financial aid. in the past, that tension has been greater than it is today because we rely so much on technology. almost 100%, not quite, but almost 100 people of apply do it through an online application that allows them to skip by questions that don't ally for them. if you truly needy qualify for federal means tested benefits or other ways that were identifying you're truly needy, you can import information from the irs or given a pass through the majority of the staff question -- fasfa questions. ..
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>> heavyset terms of financial strength of the family and completion. what would lead more to the class the application so that students will have a good idea of financial aid packages so they know how much they have to attend college and that would make a difference. >> mr. heath, earlier